Let’s talk about recently concluded ‘Telecom India -09’ show at Pragati Maidan, which was 4th in row and jointly organized by DoT & FICCI. This year the focus of the event was ‘Telecom for inclusive growth’, much in line with GoI’s UID (Unique Identification) program, which mainly addresses the identity issues of poor class (Along with forming unique identity across all Government domains for all Indian citizens). The same has been emphasized by Honorable PM in his keynote address, where he assured audiences that proposed 3G spectrum auction will take place on 14th Jan 2010 only.
If anyone of you has attended last year’s Telecom India-08 show would say; this year the show was complete lackluster display of poorly performing Telecom Sector. Last year, at the same time when PM launched MTNL’s 3G network in Delhi, there was lots of hype surrounding the 3G services. Since then, we have been constantly hearing the debate surrounding reserve price of spectrum between FinMin and DoT. Later ISRO and Ministry of Defense joined the fray and denied the release of some part of spectrum in Delhi et all cities. And last year where the focus of Telecom India -08 was ‘Rural India’, how much goal was achieved till date is real question.
Notably, among equipment makers, Huawei & ZTE remained absent at show, while other stalls of Telcos including Airtel, Vodafone, Aircel, MTNL etc failed to grab attention of visitors. Mere setting up stalls by some of these Telcos has displayed their interest in the event, but there was nothing to showcase,
except at MTNL’s recent launch of ½ paise STD plan between Delhi & Mumbai. MTNL is also betting on slashed 3G rates supported by Netbook deals (Dell Mini), which might help them in grabbing some 3G market shares.
Some key technologies on display included Power solutions at BSS end (which was key thrust at last year’s event); especially ACME’s Rural BTSs (Green Shelter), but it certainly lacked thunder. In fact this time I decided to skip visiting stalls of power & GenSet companies, as I fear they might lose if 3G roll-outs are further delayed. Other notable absence was of Samsung & LG devices units, though Samsung displayed key researches in WiMAX area; I was curious to see the latest developments from Korean handset makers. I really doubt whether India is focus area for these handset makers or not?
As usual I got to see HSPA+ & 3G demos by Ericsson on Dell Mini, but certainly this is mere technology Up-gradation demo. We still don’t have 3G and it’s causing lots of pain. Though in mean time I visited Tata-DoCoMo stall, who of course is betting too much on pricing of voice rates, I doubt whether they will get 2G spectrum in Delhi soon. On the other hand Motorola, another telecom major in North America, has displayed WiMAX solution demo, though I was expecting to see demo of Droid phone, which is currently one of the best selling Smartphones in North America.Ericsson’s broadband bus on field provided glimpse of multimedia services on roll, but denied to disclose interested parties name. Ericsson (As well as Nokia), betting on their global 3G expertise, and trusted 3G->HSPA->LTE lineup (One of the researcher even proclaimed the Nokia lines ‘WiMAX is next Betamax’ ).
Overall, it was drab show and shadow of dark cloud of ‘Pay-Per-Second’ schemes can be seen on future prospects of revenues of Telcos. Already, Telcos are facing lots of stiff competitions, not only from other Telcos but also from other companies, (VoIP/IPTV/WiFi/Broadband/ISPs) to keep hold on their core business (Basic Voice Telephony). And DoT/GoI is doing little to protect the interest of Indian Telecom Sector/Telcos, except focusing too much on pricing innovation.Certainly, India isn’t hub of telecom devices/equipments manufacturing (CDoT should have realized this by this time, as there was really nothing to showcase at CDoT stall) and if long-term interests of Telcos are not protected, we don’t see much improvement in ailing telecom sector soon.